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Our ancestors came from Asia

FOSSILS recently discovered in Myanmar could prove that the common ancestors of humans, monkeys and apes - anthropoids - evolved from primates in Asia, rather than Africa, researchers say in a study released yesterday.

The 38 million-year-old pieces of jawbones and teeth are part of a growing body of evidence that is helping scientists to understand the origin of primates, said Dr Chris Beard, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and a member of the team who found the fossils in 2005.

Beard and his team concluded that the fossils - which they dubbed Ganlea megacanina - came from a new species that belonged to an extinct family of Asian anthropoid primates known on Amphipithecidae. His team determined that the fossil was 38 million years old, making it several million years older than any anthropoid found in Africa and the second-oldest discovered in Asia.

In 1994, Beard and Chinese colleagues found fossilized foot bones of the anthropoid Eosimias which lived 40-45 million years ago in China.

Beard said the age of both fossils challenge the idea anthropoid primates evolved in Africa, where Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old fossil, was found in 1974.


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